Crank: High Voltage

Friday, April 24, 2009

Consider this when deciding whether you want to see Crank: High Voltage. Would you enjoy the sight of a man being penetrated by a shotgun and would you be amused by the ensuing interrogation (complete with twisting of the shotgun in the man’s ruined anus)? If your answer to that question is yes, then you’re my kind of twisted son of a bitch and will love this movie.

Like the original film, Crank: High Voltage isn’t so much a film than it is a passive video game. The plot that links the scenes together is superfluous. It’s only there to link a series of outrageous sketches together.

It would be easy to write High Voltage off as mindless trash, but that would be to miss the insane wit that is contained within. Honestly, there’s more imagination here than there are in the best reviewed, most widely acclaimed movies. The filmmakers have pilfered from cartoons, video games, action movies and slapstick and produced one of the most entertaining films you’ll see. This isn’t a film made by knuckleheads – it’s made by a couple of insane geniuses.

The bit that convinced me that I was watching a film made by comedy geniuses was when Chev (Jason Statham) confronts the man who has stolen his heart (long story short: Chev survived the helicopter fall in the first film, had his heart removed and a mechanic one installed, and now needs to shock himself with electricity to keep it working). Chev’s energy is running low but he’s conveniently run into an electric plant. So he shocks himself and the film then goes crazy. The frame distorts and we have the sight of a couple of stuntmen in bad masks of the actors fighting a Godzilla-style fight on a small recreation of the electric plant – the men crush buildings as they scrap. There’s no real reason for this insane flight of fancy, but it does the trick – it had me laughing like a spazz.

Another moment of inspiration is the way that an action scene is interrupted to have a dialogue scene with a minor character in the original film. The man in question had a gun pointed at his face by Chev and subsequently suffers from anxiety issues. However, a MILF psychiatrist cougar who wants to fuck this poor guy, works her magic and convinces him that life is worth living. But then when he stands up, a stray bullet enters the office and goes through his brain. You’ve got to admire the time and care the filmmakers take to build a joke.

I also like the way that the film stops so that it can show Chev’s childhood via his appearance on a tabloid chat show. The young Chev appears quite mild mannered at first but then we cut to him beating the shit out of playground bullies. And it’s brilliant the way that the filmmakers don’t try and disguise the fact that Chev’s childhood is filmed in America. I mean, you have British Bobbies and red telephone boxes but the buildings and the sky are pure California. And amazingly, it proved to be an inspired choice to cast Geri Halliwell as Chev’s mum. As anyone who has seen Spice World or her cringe-worthy appearance in Sex in the City can attest, the woman has not one iota of talent. Her attempts at acting are enough to break even the toughest individuals. Five minutes of her (sometimes even thirty seconds) will have you looking for the nearest shotgun to penetrate yourself with. But here she’s really quite amusing. (However, I do think that the filmmakers missed a trick by not having Chev appear on the Jeremy Kyle Show – that would have made it even better.)

However, as ingenious as High Voltage is, towards the end you feel that it’s running out of surprises. I mean, sure testicle torture is amusing and all, but you know that the film can do better. And eventually it does. At the end the main bad guy reveals why he’s so pissed off – Chev killed his brother in the first movie. But not to worry, the bad guy’s brother isn’t actually dead. His head is being kept alive in a tank. Pretty much all the head can say is ‘Fuck you, Chelios’ (and in a Stephen Hawking voice), but at least he’ll be able to witness Chev’s death. Words cannot state how much this amused me. A man killing another man because his brother can now only be a head in a tank? Again this is another example of the filmmakers’ insane imagination.

The final action sequence is as mad as you’d hope. Chev eventually smashes the tank that contains the head, and, after it asks him for water, punts it into a swimming pool. And then almost as crazily, Chev electrocutes himself on some power lines and finishes the film in flames while giving the audience the bird. Will anything kill this man? Happily the answer to that is no. And the sight of a burnt-to-a-crisp Chev still alive and fairly well gives me hope for a zombie Chev film. That would be awesome.

Speaking of awesomeness, the obligatory sex scene in High Voltage exceeds the one in the first film. You see, Chev needs to build up some static electricity in order to keep his mechanical heart pumping. At first he tries to rub up against a guy (a gay punker Bono lookalike) but then he finds an immobile old lady. He frottages the shit out of the old biddy until Chev’s girlfriend turns up. She’s appalled, but within a matter of moments Chev and his girlfriend are on a racecourse fucking in front of thousands of people. We see various crazy positions, but just when you think you’ve seen this all before in the previous film, a bunch of horses jump over the couple and we see a series of horse cocks. Yes, apparently Chev is hung (as we’re told over and over again) – no wonder untrustworthy Asians would go to all this effort to harvest his marvellous organs.

P.S. – watch the fight with the cops. Chev’s reenergising and subsequent one blow, six man destruction would make John Matrix proud.

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  1. Can't bring myself to see it, my friend. Sorry. We saw the trailer for it when we saw (the wonderful) Adventureland, and I thought it was among the two or three worst trailers I'd ever seen. Nice to see (in the sidebar) you've finally gotten round to seeing Slumdog Millionaire -- is there a review forthcoming? I screened Red Dawn for Kelly the other night. She'd never seen it before, and, rest assured, she has no desire to ever see it again. "Wolverines!"

  2. Terrific film, had me in stitches from start to end. A particular line that had me gasping for air is when Chev is chasing Johnny Vang down the car park, lands on the car, grabs him then roars "Did I just drop some change, because I'm sure I heard a chink!". Absolute genius. Almost as much genius as seeing the stripper getting shot in the tits and the subsequent silicone pouring out of them.